Saturday 31 October 2015

Best Ice Cream Cities In The World

On 14 September, SoolNua released the 2015 city and country rankings in the inaugural SoolNua World ICECREAM Index. Top of the list was Slovenia, followed by England with Iceland in third place. The initiative was launched in May 2015 at IMEX Frankurt and nominations for locations all over the world serving the best ice cream were accepted by SoolNua until 17 July.

From then until 1 September (00.00 GMT) voting lines were open and nominees engaged proactively with their communities and fans seeking votes on the dedicated website. Voting closed on 1 September and then the international judging panel evaluated the entries with specific focus on the campaigns they conducted.

“ICECREAM is a universal treat yet each destination around the world has its own unique recipes and flavours. The SoolNua World ICECREAM Index is really telling two stories – one story is about great ICECREAM and where you can find it, the other is about pride of place and community engagement and how destinations can build profile and presence in unique and unusual ways” said Patrick Delaney, joint managing Partner at SoolNua.

“We were overwhelmed by the reaction to the initiative with nominations coming from all over the world. The last two weeks of voting were like an exciting end-to-end football match with constant changes on the leaderboard as nominees tried new ways to increase votes. The overall winner, Slovenia, impressed the judges with their impressive tally of votes (almost 10,000) but also with the systematic ways they worked together around vote management, creative initiatives to increase votes and sheer, unbridled commitment to winning!” added Pádraic Gilligan, joint Managing Partner at SoolNua.

Dada Jerovšek, Director at Kaval Group, about what it means to Lolita to be ranked no.1 on the SoolNua World ICE-CREAM Index: “It means a looooot, to be honest. We probably even don’t know it yet, understand what happened. We just feel it, sense how great, huge this ranking “to be no.1 on the SoolNua World ICE-CREAM Index” is. But of course, what we know and are most proud of is the fact that our beautiful capital city of Ljubljana and our country Slovenia is now also through this placed on the world map. And this means a lot to all of us…to Ljubljana and to Slovenia.”

We know you are all wondering which flavour represent Slovenia the best. Dada shared: “Lolita’s Ice-cream is homemade, from natural Slovene ingredients with no chemical preservatives. We use just what is fresh, natural. When prepared one has to eat it in four days, which has never been a problem. My favourite are fruity tastes because it is like the taste of the fruit itself just in a cold version. Most precious for me is the blueberry ice cream prepared from the blueberries which were growing in our beautiful green Slovene forest, were picked in the early morning and in the afternoon they already spoil and seduce you in the best Lolita’s ice cream. Delicious. There is just one problem…. your teeth are going to be blue afterwards. But it’s worth it!”

BRAZIL: Amazon Fires Diminish

Brazilian officials have managed to contain several forest fires that have destroyed half of an indigenous reserve in the Amazon region.

Some 12,000 indigenous people live in the Arariboia reserve, in the state of Maranhao.

Their leaders say the fires were started more than a month ago by hostile loggers and farmers who want exploit the area's natural resources.

Hundreds of firefighters and soldiers had been trying to put out the blazes.

Their work has been helped by recent heavy rains, which extinguished 90% of the fires in the state, a local official said.

An additional 10% of fires were under control, said Luciano Evaristo, regional director of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama).

Demarcated indigenous land amounts to 12% of the Brazilian territory

Loggers started the fires to intimidate the tribes and undermine their projects to boost surveillance programmes in the Arariboia reserve, said environmental group Greenpeace.

Some 12,000 ethnic Guajajara indigenous people live in the area.

Among them is a small vulnerable group of about 80 members of the Awa-Guaja tribe, who have chosen to live in isolation deep in the forest.

Brazilian environmental officials say there has been a record number of fires throughout the Amazon as the result of exceptionally dry weather.

More than 13,000 forest fires have been recorded in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of the year.

ROMANIA: 27 Dead In Club Fire More Than 180 Injured, Hospitalised

A policeman stands at the site of an explosion that occurred in a club in Bucharest, Romania, early Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.
Deadly fire rips through packed Bucharest nightclub
Romanian officials say at least 27 people dead and 180 more wounded in the incident, with toll expected to rise.

A fire has ripped through a Bucharest nightclub, killing at least 27 people and wounding more than 180 more, Romanian authorities have said.

The fire broke out at about 11pm on Friday night at the Colectiv nightclub in the Romanian capital, with hundreds of people inside attending a rock concert.

Victor Ionescu, who was at the club with his girlfriend, told Antena 3 TV by telephone that there were huge flames after the explosion.

"People were fainting - they were fainting from the smoke. It was total chaos, people were trampling on each other," he said.

A young man filmed by Antena 3 said that flames engulfed clubbers, burning their skin and hair.

Media reported that clubgoers initially thought the flames were part of the show and did not immediately react. Fire regulations can be lax in Bucharest clubs and restaurants.

The official death toll was raised to 27 early on Saturday morning and Deputy Interior Minister Raed Arafat said the toll may still climb further.

Reports say that the Romanian health ministry has put out a notice calling for blood donations.

"The club was packed with about 300 people inside for a rock concert with a pyrotechnic show," she said.

Upon hearing the news, people descended on the club looking for loved ones. Adding to their anxiety was the fact that many of the clubgoers were not carrying identity papers so victims could not immediately be identified.

“She’s not answering the telephone and she’s not saying anything,” said a mother, dressed in a black leather jacket, crying in front of television cameras.

“We want information whether he’s alive,” said a visibly overcome woman, speaking about a family member.

Media reported that emergency services arrived 11 minutes after the first call at 10:32 p.m. (2032 GMT).

"Some of those being admitted to hospital have burns all over their bodies. Most of the victims were teenagers and students.

"Paramedics say that many of the people involved were foreigners who did not speak Romanian."

Nicola said the cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed, but said it is believed that there had been a problem with the pyrotechnics.

She said that some witnesses reported that fireworks hit the roof of the club, sparking the blaze.

A young woman who was released from the hospital after minor injuries described the club bursting into flames.

"In five seconds, the whole ceiling was all on fire. In the next three, we rushed to a single door," she told Antena 3.

"There was a stampede of people running out of the club.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement: "I want to assure you of all support from rescuing forces and ask you to trust they put all efforts to limit the impact of this catastrophe."

Victor Ionescu, who was at the club with his girlfriend, told Antena 3 TV that “people were fainting, they were fainting from the smoke. It was total chaos, people were trampling on each other.”

A young man filmed by Antena 3 said that flames engulfed clubgoers, burning their skin and hair.

Several major nightclub fires have been blamed on pyrotechnics igniting foam used for soundproofing, including The Station nightclub fire in the U.S. that killed 100 people in West Warwick, Rhode Island, in 2003 and the Kiss nightclub fire in Brazil, which killed 242 people in the university town of Santa Maria in 2013.

Raed Arafat, a government emergency situation official, said that people were treated for burns, smoke inhalation and lesions at hospitals around the capital.

“It is a tragedy without precedent and it is an intervention without precedent,” he said.

Oprea called an emergency government meeting for Saturday morning to discuss the situation.

According to the Bucharest-based metal band’s Facebook page, lead singer Andrei Gault was the 2008 winner of “Megastar,” a Romanian show similar to “American Idol.” The band has five members and has released two albums since it formed in 2011.

President Klaus Iohannis wrote on his Facebook page that he was “shaken and deeply hurt by the tragic event. … It is a very sad moment for us all, for our nation and for me personally.” He said he was considering declaring a day of national mourning.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta, on a visit to Mexico, said he was cutting short his visit to return to Bucharest.

The ministry said there were 60 ambulances and fire engines were sent to the scene and a mobile hospital had been set up outside. About 180 people were injured, with some 50 of them taken to the Floreasca emergency hospital, the ministry said.

Health Minister Nicolae Banicoiu called for people to donate blood to help the injured.

Friday 30 October 2015

UGANDA: Gorilla Census On - In Uganda, DR Congo & Rwanda

A census to ascertain the number of endangered mountain gorillas in three neighbouring countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has started.

The venture, which started last week in Virunga National Game Park in DRC, is aimed at ascertaining whether mountain gorilla numbers are increasing or not.

Mr Pontius Ezuma, the supervisor of the 331-square kilometre Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, said last week regional governments are working together owing to the fact that they all share gorillas that keep moving freely in the neighboring parks.

Mr Ezuma said a new method of counting the gorillas, which live communally, is being used and the surveyors will gather faecal matter and test their DNA as opposed to head counting.

“Direct counting sometimes does not give you accurate results but we now test the DNA of the faecal matter we find on the gorilla nests,” Mr Ezuma said last week. He was meeting officials of the National Environment Management Authority, who are jointly working with the United Nations Development Programme to gather data that will help to identify financial gaps needed to conserve ecosystems in the country, under the project Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN).

Mr David Agenya, a guide in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, explained that gorillas build nests either on the ground or in trees where they sleep in the evening.

In the 2011 census, there were 880 mountain gorillas in the three countries with Uganda having 480 of them, and for tourism, they brings in over Shs19 billion annually in foreign exchange earnings.

Mr Francis Sabino Ogwal, the coordinator for the BIOFIN project, said although Bwindi forest brings in a lot of revenue, it is hard to ascertain how much is needed to conserve it.

ZAMBIA: Mongu Man Dressed Like Woman Arrested

POLICE in Mongu have arrested a 27-year-old man for allegedly masquerading as a woman and committing sodomy with a taxi driver.
Hatch Bril of St John’s was locked up last Thursday at Mongu Central Police Station after a 19-year-old taxi driver reported the matter to the police.

Western Province commissioner of police Charles Lungu said in an interview yesterday that on the fateful morning around 02:00 hours, Bril allegedly lured the taxi driver to bed after the two met.

“Apparently Bril, who was allegedly dressed and appeared like a woman, was liked by two men but ‘she’ settled for the taxi driver because he had a car.

“The two later went to the taxi driver’s house in Imwiko stage II where the victim discovered that his purported lover was actually a man after he noticed strange contours on ‘her’ body in the middle of the sex encounter,” he said.

Mr Lungu said the taxi driver immediately dragged Bril to the vehicle and drove to his aunt’s house for reinforcement.
Mr Lungu said Bril will appear in court soon.

Meanwhile, a 43-year-old man of Nawala village in Mongu has committed suicide following a marital dispute.

Sininda Samba set himself ablaze on Thursday last week around 14:00 hours in his house.

He said the relatives have buried the remains.

ZAMBIA: Chinese Robbed K150,000 By Taxi Driver In Kalulushi

A CHINESE man of Chambishi in Kalulushi has allegedly been robbed of K150,000 by a taxi driver he hired to take him to the bank to draw the money.

This comes barely three days after three members of a Chinese family were murdered in Kitwe’s Garneton.
Kitwe district officer commanding Davies Simwanza said in an interview that the incident happened yesterday between 10:00 hours and 11:00 hours.

Mr Simwanza said the Chinese man, whose identity has been withheld, hired the taxi to take him to the bank to draw money but after doing his transactions, the taxi driver stopped on the way and picked up two friends.

He said the suspects pushed the Chinese man out of the vehicle and sped off.

ZAMBIA: Zambia Loses 144,000 Elephants To Poaching

Zambia has over the last 30 years or so lost about one hundred and forty four thousand (144, 000) elephants to poaching related activities.

This was disclosed in Lusaka today during a discussion forum on wildlife organised by US Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz and US Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) Program Officer for African Elephants and Rhino Programs Dr. Michelle Gadd.

Speaking during the discussion program, Dr. Gadd explained that in the year 1900 Africa had a population of about ten million elephants and that when the continent was achieving the Global Protection in 1989 the continent had about 500, 000 elephants down from ten million.

Dr. Gadd says as for Zambia, the country had an estimated 160, 000 elephants in 1981 but a recent survey by the International Union for Conservation of Nature has revealed that the country has about 16, 000 elephants representing a drop of about 90 percent.

In the case of Rhinos, Dr. Gadd says Zambia had 13, 000 black Rhinos which were depleted within three years.

She however says Zambia should be applauded for managing to bring back the species to a wild condition with the help of South Africa who donated Rhinos to North Luangwa National Park.

Dr. Gadd explains that it takes about US$3.5 million to bring back Rhino species to wild condition and about US$50, 000 to sell them.

Speaking at the same forum, US Ambassador to Zambia Erick Shultz expressed concern at the rate of poaching in Zambia.

Mr. Shultz says Zambia should focus on improving the tourism sector by sensibly looking after the wildlife

UGANDA: Dutch Tourist Goes Missing In Murchison Falls National Park

Tourism Police and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officers have mounted a search for a Dutch national who went missing in Murchison Falls National Park part of Nwoya District on Wednesday night.

Ms Sofia Isabella Federika is said to have told friends that she was going for a short call only to wander from the Students Education Centre to the bank of the River Nile. Tourism police commander Wilson Omoding said they have not lost hope and the search for Ms Federika is ongoing. “We haven’t found her yet but all efforts to look for her are still on,” Mr Omoding said yesterday.

Ms Federika is a volunteer at Rubaga Hospital.
UWA officials searched for her as soon as they learnt that she was missing but their efforts were hampered by darkness and called them off until Thursday.

“Early morning (Thursday) the team discovered a bottle she had been holding, by the Victoria Nile river bank, prompting fear that she might have walked to this point,” UWA statement read in part.

River Nile is infested with crocodiles and hippopotamuses that are known to attack human beings.

Previous incidents
Since the 1999 incident in which foreign tourists were killed by rebels in Bwindi National Park, cases of missing tourists have been rare.

In 2011, one female tourist went missing in Kibaale National Park but she was found days later after a massive search.
After the incident, police had to establish a Tourism Police Unit to ensure the safety of tourist sites and visitors from within Uganda and outside the country.

USA: U.S. Airlines Poorly Advised On War On Gulf Carriers

Americans support withdrawal before more harm is done to consumers and the national interest.

Business Travel Coalition (BTC) reacted positively to news that Delta Air Lines is cancelling its $5 million dollar annual membership in the U.S. airline trade group Airlines For America (A4A). BTC believes that the U.S. major network carrier (US3) war on Gulf carrier entry into U.S. markets has now entered the operational and financial drawdown phase.

The multi-million dollar US3 campaign to demonize the Gulf carriers was doomed from conception with tepid backing from other U.S. airlines and zero support from consumers, corporate travel departments and other industry stakeholders such as cargo carriers and airports adversely impacted by U.S. airline industry consolidation.

The most existential of threats to the US3 articulated by Delta - Gulf carrier U.S. market expansion - excessively repeated in Obama Administration meetings, train station billboards, radio advertising, press statements, media placements and industry gatherings was missing from the A4A press announcement today.

However, Delta’s press release provided insight: “In recent years, the trade group, known as A4A, has failed to support Delta on several key issues, including the growing harm of government-subsidized carriers in the Middle East...”

“What’s obvious to many industry observers is that Delta’s exiting the battle field, and the break up of the coalition, represents the inverse decision of British Airways/IAG in pulling out of the Association of European Airlines because of that association’s commercial protectionism stance against the Gulf carriers and new-entrant competition.

Open market advocates simply don’t seek government-sponsored commercial protectionism,” stated BTC founder Kevin Mitchell.

“This is the clearest admission to date by Delta that it is truly estranged from its competitors and customers and doesn’t care about the U.S. national interest, broader airline industry interests or the best interests of the traveling public - it apparently cares only about Delta, and its hyper-parochialism has made it impossible to work with industry colleagues and regulators for the greater national good. This is shameful on a variety of levels,” added Mitchell.

Airport Parking & Hotels Compares Data Roaming Charges

When travelling outside of Europe, data roaming charges vary significantly. Vodafone was found to charge the least providing data roaming at a cost of £3 per MB in 153 countries and Tesco Mobile charging the most at £8 per MB.

According to recent research by the mobile network Three, travellers can save up to £330 each year by taking advantage of their new ‘Feel at Home’ scheme whilst travelling abroad. With this in mind, Airport Parking & Hotels (APH) is helping savvy travellers avoid unnecessary high bills by comparing data roaming charges on the UK’s most popular mobile networks.

The research compares seven of the largest mobile networks in the UK including EE, GiffGaff, O2, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone, and highlights the differences between the cost of using data in both Europe and worldwide, data limits whilst roaming and the travel data bundles available to customers.

When travelling in Europe, mobile networks such as Giffgaff, O2, Tesco Mobile and Three were found to charge between 14.5p per MB and 19p per MB for both Pay As You Go and Pay Monthly customers. However, customers travelling within Vodafone’s ‘Europe Zone 2’ boundary will be charged 45p per MB when exceeding over 100MB of data whereas Three customers will be charged £3 per MB when travelling to ‘Data Band 2’ countries. Travellers should also note that some networks, such as EE Extra and Virgin Mobile, will automatically block data roaming access until a customer has activated a travel data bundle.

When travelling outside of Europe, data roaming charges also vary significantly. Vodafone was found to charge the least providing data roaming at a cost of £3 per MB in 153 countries and Tesco Mobile charging the most at £8 per MB. Three customers can benefit from being charged from their UK allowance whilst travelling in seven ‘Feel at Home’ countries outside of Europe including Australia, Hong Kong and the USA. On the other hand, EE customers are not allowed to access the internet unless they purchase a travel data bundle.

Travellers concerned about overspending, should note that six of the seven mobile networks limit data usage whilst abroad with Three, Virgin and Vodafone limiting customers to £36 spending per month and O2 capping roaming usage to £48 per month. Customers requiring additional data whilst aboard can modify the spending limit if needed. Giffgaff does not limit any type of data usage abroad but customers may request a complete bar on data roaming. For travellers on Pay As You Go for all mobile networks, there is no limit on spending but data access will be stopped once the credit balance is empty.

Travel data bundles are available from five of the mobile networks researched, with Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile both not offering travel bundles to their customers. Pay Monthly customers with EE can benefit from the EE Euro Pass, charging £4 per day for unlimited texts and calls whilst abroad and 400MB of data, whereas O2 charges £1.99 per day for unlimited data roaming in Europe. Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile both do not currently offer travel data bundles.

USA: SpringHill Suites Hotel Opens In Lumberton, North Carolina

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the hotel is conveniently located off I-95 at Exit 22 and offers guests easy access to Robeson College, Pinecrest Country Club, Southeastern Agricultural Center, and the Bill Sapp Recreation Center.

The 118-suite SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Lumberton, North Carolina is now open for business. Located at 5128 Fayetteville Road, the SpringHill Suites Lumberton will operate as a Marriott franchise, owned and managed by North Point Hospitality Group of Atlanta, Georgia.

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the hotel is conveniently located off I-95 at Exit 22 and offers guests easy access to Robeson College, Pinecrest Country Club, Southeastern Agricultural Center, and the Bill Sapp Recreation Center.

“We’re delighted that the SpringHill Suites Lumberton is the latest addition to our growing number of properties across the United States,” said Loren Nalewanski, vice president and global brand manager, SpringHill Suites. “The hotel’s design provides a seamless blend of style and function at an affordable price, and our all-suite offering allows guests enough room to relax and reenergize.”

Featuring suites that are larger than typical hotel rooms, SpringHill Suites Lumberton is ideal for business and leisure travelers looking for style and inspiration in their stay. Every aspect, from furniture and lighting to colors and fabrics, has been carefully selected to offer calm and refreshing spaces. Separate living, working and sleeping spaces also provide guests with flexibility and functionality. The perfect place to sink into a good night’s sleep, the hotel offers luxurious linens and plush pillows, while a comfortable pullout sofa bed and lounge chair offer additional space for relaxation or extra family members. The hotel’s tasteful bathroom includes modern touches, a marble-top vanity, iridescent tile walls and creative lighting features, which help travelers revive and refresh.

“We are proud to partner with Marriott International, Inc. to build this new, select-service SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Lumberton, NC,” said S. Jay Patel, President and CEO of North Point Hospitality Group, Inc. "Offering quality accommodations at an excellent value, the SpringHill Suites allows us to serve leisure and business travelers alike in the Lumberton, NC area."

Business travelers can take advantage of a large, well-lit desk with ergonomic chair. Complimentary Wi-Fi in the hotel’s lobby and high-speed Internet access in every suite allow guests to remain connected at all times.

Featuring a brand new design that adds depth and sophistication to the decor, the hotel’s lobby is a great venue for conducting casual meetings or simply to socialize. Using warm colors, accent fabrics and walnut-stained wood, the lobby’s earth tones inspire guests to sit, relax and enjoy their stay. The hotel also offers business services, same-day dry cleaning, guest laundry facilities, an indoor swimming pool and a fitness center. In the lobby, the Market offers convenient 24/7 access to food and beverages.

Daily complimentary hot breakfast is SpringHill Suites’ way of making sure guests have a good start to their day. The property also has 900 square feet of meeting space to accommodate meetings and functions of up to 110 people.

USA: Diamond Resorts International Completes Major Enhancements

The Royal Sunset Beach Club in Tenerife.

Several Diamond Resorts locations have received expanded and refreshed facilities, continuing the company's mission of providing high-quality amenities for their members, owners and guests. From Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort in the majestic mountains of California to the breathtaking landscapes of the Canaries and Balearic Islands in Spain, these worldwide renovations help members, owners and guests truly Stay Vacationed by enhancing the quality of their getaway time.

Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort has enriched its outdoor experience. A hidden gem tucked between Lake Tahoe's impressive Sierra Nevada mountain range and offering both winter and summer activities, dining in the scenic outdoors has become more impressive. Members can now enjoy the property's new barbeque area, which includes three new stainless steel barbeques and picnic style benches. Set along the picturesque lake are three new fire pits with Adirondack lounge chairs - making evenings by the fire that much more delightful. Additionally, new sleeper sofas were added to all deluxe units and in-room safes are now a feature in all units throughout the resort.

The Royal Sunset Beach Club in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, has revitalized 12 studio accommodations with new appliances and furniture, giving the units a fresh, appealing new look. Additionally, the decor has been fully updated in 25 of the beach club's one-bedroom units and seven of its two-bedroom units. Renovations were also made to the pool area including the installation of a new whirlpool and a remodeled pool deck area, providing members, owners and guests with additional lounge space on the 40 new sun beds.

Jardines del Sol in Lanzarote, the easternmost Canary Island, completed a full refurbishment of its accommodations with new exterior doors and windows and freshly painted interior walls and doors. Living areas in all units were updated with new furniture and matching decor and new bathroom appliances.

Upcoming renovations to White Sands Beach Club located in Menorca, one of the Balearic Islands, will include the refurbishment of eight new accommodations, the installation of new doors and handrails, and new tile floors on all terraces, stairs and solarium.

"At Diamond Resorts, continual improvement is an important part of our mission," said David Palmer, President and CEO of Diamond Resorts International. "We constantly look for ways to refresh and improve our accommodations, to ensure that our members, owners and guests experience the highest possible standard of comfort and amenities. After all, we want them to enjoy affordable luxury and create priceless memories while they stay with us, and return home with the feeling that they can Stay Vacationed all year long. That is what we are all about."

USA: Courtyard Hotel To Open Near Mississippi State University

Courtyard by Marriott Starkville MSU at The Mill Conference Center opened its doors. Featuring an innovative lobby space as well as Courtyard’s latest contemporary room design, the new hotel provides flexibility and choices that allow guests to optimize and elevate their travel experience.

Located in the Cotton District, adjacent to The Mill Conference Center at 100 Mercantile Street, the 105-room hotel will operate as a Marriott franchise, owned and managed by Peachtree Hotel Group of Atlanta, Georgia. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the Courtyard Starkville MSU at The Mill Conference Center offers guests convenient access to Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Courtyard constantly researches trends and evolves to meet the changing needs of its guests. The latest room design offers hybrid zones for working, sleeping, relaxing and getting ready. Indirect lighting and a neutral, tone-on-tone color palette makes for a soothing and calm environment.

“From day one, Courtyard has prided itself as a brand that listens to business travelers,” said Callette Nielsen, vice president and global brand manager, Courtyard. “Today’s technology has changed how people travel. Our guests want a room that has purpose and flexibility that enables a seamless transition between relaxing and working. Courtyard is designed to offer them a relaxing and functional space to work the way they want to, when they want to.”

The new room design is intuitive and thoughtful, offering flexible yet comfortable spaces that enable technology. Upon arrival, guests can store bags on the “Luggage Drop” and plug personal devices into the “Tech Drop” ledge for seamless technology integration.

Signature furniture and architectural elements replace traditional art in the new guestroom. The “LoungeAround” sofa offers a pop of color and a comfortable area for relaxing or for working. The new design also features a light desk on wheels, allowing guests to work from anywhere in the room.

An upgraded, more spacious layout creates an enhanced bathroom experience. A “Shower Nook” housing shampoos and towels, makes amenities accessible without having to leave the shower.

The Courtyard Starkville MSU at The Mill Conference Center also offers the Refreshing Business lobby environment, where guests can enjoy an open and bright area outside of their rooms. Along with media pods, complimentary Wi-Fi and a variety of seating zones, the redefined space is ideal for everything from pop-up meetings to social gatherings. The lobby also features The Bistro – Eat. Drink. Connect®, offering casual, flexible seating; easy access to food and high quality, healthy menu options for breakfast; and light evening fare, including snacks, cocktails, wine and beer so guests can unwind.

Throughout the hotel, guests can connect with ample electrical outlets. The business library features several computer terminals, along with a printer and separate computer stations dedicated solely to printing airline boarding passes and checking flight status.

Green has been Courtyard’s signature color since Marriott launched the brand 30 years ago. Now it is even greener with the introduction of a guest recycling program for the environment. Receptacles for paper, glass, plastic and metal are conveniently located by side exits.

The four-story hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and guest laundry, and offers 1,200 square feet of meeting space in the hotel as well as 10,000 square feet at The Mill Conference Center to accommodate functions of up to 1,000 people.

CANADA: Air New Zealand Increases Capacity On Vancouver - Auckland Route

This will be the first time Air New Zealand has operated four return services on the route during this time period. With the fourth flight departing Vancouver on Saturdays, the airline will add more than 3,700 seats to the route, representing a 33 percent boost in capacity compared to the previous year.

Air New Zealand is adding an additional return service on its Vancouver-Auckland route ahead of the upcoming peak northern summer period between April 2 and May 7, 2016.

The popularity of the airline's service between Auckland and Vancouver will see the airline step up frequency next year from three to four return services per week.

This will be the first time Air New Zealand has operated four return services on the route during this time period. With the fourth flight departing Vancouver on Saturdays, the airline will add more than 3,700 seats to the route, representing a 33 percent boost in capacity compared to the previous year.

The latest increase is part of Air New Zealand's overall capacity increase on the Vancouver-Auckland route and marks the third capacity lift over the past year.

Air New Zealand Vice President of the Americas Chris Myers says, "We are very pleased with the continued growth out of our Vancouver gateway, and with the introduction of the refurbished Boeing 777-200ER on the route, it's only fitting that we are able to offer our Canadian customers more scheduled services when traveling to New Zealand or Australia."

The route will be consistently operated by the refurbished Boeing 777-200ER aircraft from October 25, and customers can now book the airline's revolutionary Economy Skycouch™ and Premium Economy product.

Premium Economy: In the Premium Economy cabin, travelers can relax in comfortable and luxurious ink-colored leather seats with individual armrests and a leg rest with extendable foot support.

Economy Skycouch: The award-winning and innovative Economy Skycouch - a trio of seats which transforms into a flat, flexible space to stretch out and relax is particularly popular with couples or families.

Air New Zealand offers a convenient overnight service to New Zealand, departing from Vancouver early evening and arriving into Auckland early in the morning, allowing for same day connections to 21 domestic New Zealand and eight Australian gateways.

Air New Zealand's additional return service on the Vancouver-Auckland route offers greater flexibility and connectivity to New Zealand and Australia.

IRELAND: Ryanair Kicks Off Athens Winter 2015 Schedule

New route to Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Santorini and Warsaw. More flights on 3 other routes including Paphos 2X daily, Rhodes 2X daily, and Thessaloniki 8 X daily.

Ryanair kicked off its Athens winter 2015 schedule, which includes 5 new routes to/from Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Santorini & Warsaw as well as increased frequencies on 3 other routes (including Thessaloniki 8 x daily), which will deliver over 2.4 m customers p.a. and support 1,800* “on-site” jobs at Athens Airport.

Ryanair’s Athens winter 2015 schedule will deliver:

5 new routes: Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Santorini & Warsaw
13 Athens routes in total
More flights & improved schedules on 3 other routes
2.4 m customers p.a. in total
1,800 “on-site” jobs p.a.

Greek customers and visitors can choose from 13 routes from Athens this winter, while enjoying allocated seating, a free second carry-on bag, reduced fees, a new website, a brand new app with mobile boarding passes, Family Extra and Business Plus, making Ryanair the ideal choice for families, business and leisure travellers.

Ryanair’s Dimitra Apatsidou said: “The winter season is almost here and Ryanair is pleased to celebrate our biggest ever Athens schedule, with 13 exciting routes in total, including our new routes to Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Santorini and Warsaw. We’ve also added extra flights on 3 routes, including Thessaloniki, with an eight-time daily service from November and we continue to connect Athens with Europe’s major centres of business.

Greek consumers already choose Ryanair for our low fares, industry leading customer service and great route choice. Now they can also book their summer and winter flights on our improved website and great new app, carry a free small 2nd carry-on bag and avail of our new Family Extra and Business Plus services, as Ryanair continues to deliver so much more than just the lowest fares – with more improvements to come in 2016.

To celebrate the beginning of our Athens winter 2015 schedule and 5 new routes, we are releasing seats on sale from €29.99 from Athens to Berlin, Budapest, Bratislava and Warsaw for travel from November to January 2016 which are available for booking until midnight Friday (6 November). Since these amazing low prices will be snapped up quickly, customers should log onto and avoid missing out.”

Athens Airport spokesperson, Ioanna Papapadopoulou said: "We are indeed delighted with Ryanair's decision to continue its dynamic expansion in the Athens aviation market, during the current winter season, with the establishment of new services and the increase of frequencies. The Athens market has been developing rapidly within the last two years, demonstrating double-digit traffic increases and Ryanair has substantially contributed to this success. On our part, we remain firmly committed to continue supporting Ryanair, as well as all our airline partners, in order to further enhance their very successful presence in our market”.

USA: Aeromexico Vacations Adds Flight And Hotel Packages In Cozumel

Building on new daily Aeromexico Airlines air service from Mexico City, Aeromexico Vacations announced that it is now offering flight and hotel packages on the Mexican resort island of Cozumel.

“Cozumel is a stunning destination and we are pleased to make it available to our Aeromexico Vacations customers,” said MLT Vacations President John Caldwell. “Known for its world-class diving and relaxed atmosphere, Cozumel is an ideal getaway for couples, families and anyone else wanting to experience the very best of Mexico.”

Aeromexico Vacations, the premier vacation package provider for Aeromexico, offers 17 resort properties on Cozumel that can be bundled with flights for added value. Ranging from budget-friendly to upscale luxury, these properties represent a variety of accommodation levels to fit just about any budget.

Aeromexico offers convenient daily connecting service to Cozumel through Mexico City from cities across the U.S. Leading gateways with nonstop service to Mexico City include Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston and Miami.

One of Aeromexico Vacations key U.S. gateways to Mexico City is New York’s JFK International Airport. From New York, travel agents and their clients can choose from four daily nonstop flights on Aeromexico, one of which is aboard one of the world’s most advanced aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Flexible excursion vouchers available
Along with flights and hotel stays, Aeromexico Vacations also offers several tours and activities on Cozumel. These include scuba diving, ATV adventure rides, off-road Jeep tours and swimming with dolphins.

For vacationers that want to include activities during their stay but that are unsure when or what they would like to do, Aeromexico Vacations is offering excursion vouchers. These credits provide vacationers with the flexibility to plan their activities while in destination based on the weather, their own schedules and other factors.

Aeromexico Vacations excursion credits are fully-commissionable for travel agents and are available in a variety of dollar amounts.

Along the convenience of one-stop-shopping for hotel stays and flights aboard Aeromexico, travelers booking with Aeromexico Vacations also enjoy a number of other benefits. These include earning credited flight kilometers for Club Premier members and special savings and discounts.

USA: Xenia Hotels & Resorts Sells Hyatt Regency Orange County For $137 million

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Through the six months ended June 30, 2015, the Hyatt Regency Orange County achieved RevPAR of $115.92, approximately 19% below the Company's portfolio RevPAR of $142.44 during that same period.

Xenia Hotels & Resorts, Inc. announced that it has sold the 656-room Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove, California for a price of $137 million. The sale price represents an 11.8x multiple on the hotel's 2015 forecast EBITDA and a 7.1% capitalization rate on 2015 forecast NOI. In addition to the purchase price, the company retained the approximately $5.9 million balance in the hotel's capital expenditure reserve account.

"We are pleased to have completed the sale of the Hyatt Regency Orange County," said Marcel Verbaas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Xenia Hotels & Resorts. "This transaction allowed us to take advantage of the private market valuation for a legacy hotel in our portfolio that we expected to deliver below-average growth as additional supply is entering this competitive and relatively low-rated market. Given the market's dynamics and the hotel's position, we concluded that near-term capital requirements would not represent a prudent additional investment for the company. This disposition is another step in our evolution as it further exemplifies our ability to enhance our portfolio through disciplined acquisitions and dispositions and thoughtful capital allocation."

Through the six months ended June 30, 2015, the Hyatt Regency Orange County achieved RevPAR of $115.92, approximately 19% below the company's portfolio RevPAR of $142.44 during that same period. As a result of the sale of the hotel, the company's projected 2015 Adjusted EBITDA will be reduced by approximately $1.9 million. Excess proceeds from the disposition after repayment of the $62 million mortgage loan secured by the Hotel will be utilized to pay off the $73 million mortgage loan secured by the Company's Marriott Woodlands Waterway Hotel & Convention Center.

Eastdil Secured represented the company on the transaction.

MALAYSIA: Malindo Air arrives in Amritsar

Malindo Air on 25 October began its seventh route to India from its Kuala Lumpur (KUL) base. Amritsar (ATQ) will be served thrice-weekly using the airline’s 737-900s.

The 4,276-kilometre route becomes the airline’s longest and the LCC will not face any direct competition. Amritsar joins Delhi, Kochi, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirapally and Visakhapatnam which are the other Indian cities already served by the carrier.

In all Malindo Air now serves 19 destinations non-stop from Kuala Lumpur. Located in northern India, Amritsar’s airport handled just over one million passengers in the last year, around one quarter of which were travelling on international flights.

OMAN: Oman Air Makes Its Way To Dhaka

Ribbon cutting in Dhaka. Oman Air will link Muscat with the Bangladeshi capital with a four times weekly link which will face direct competition from United Airways Bangladesh and Biman Bangladesh Airlines according to OAG Schedules Analyser.

Oman Air commenced services between Muscat (MCT) and Dhaka (DAC) on 25 October. The 3,261-kilometre link will be served four times weekly on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. From 1 December, a Monday and Wednesday service will also be added.

Dhaka is the airline’s second destination in Bangladesh after Chittagong, which is served daily from Muscat. Services between the two capital cities will face direct competition from United Airways Bangladesh and Biman Bangladesh Airlines, which both operate a daily service.

Oman Air will serve the city pair using a mixture of its A330-200s and A330-300s according to OAG Schedules Analyser data.

MOLDOVA: Air Moldova Now Serves Odessa

Odessa Airport welcomed Air Moldova’s new daily service from Chisinau on 26 October. The short 143-kilometre city pair will be served by the carrier’s E190s.

Air Moldova commenced services between Chisinau (KIV) and Odessa (ODS) on 26 October. The short 143-kilometre sector will be operated daily using the carrier’s E190s. The route will not face any direct competition. The latest route launch from Air Moldova now means that they serve 19 scheduled destinations from Odessa using a mix of four Airbus A320-series aircraft and two Embraer E190 aircraft. Five of the routes (including Odessa) are served at least daily, with Moscow Domodedovo the most popular route, served thrice-daily.

BELGIUM: Brussels Airlines Launches Service To Ghana And Spain

Brussels Airlines commenced services between Brussels and Accra on 26 October. The 5,052-kilometre sector will operate four times weekly facing no direct competition. Cutting the cake and ribbon in Brussels are: Yaw Bimpong, Ambassador for Ghana to Belgium; Arnaud Feist, Brussels Airport CEO; and Brussels Airlines CEO, Bernard Gustin.

Brussels Airlines commenced services between Brussels (BRU) and Accra (ACC) on 26 October.

The 5,052-kilometre sector will operate four times weekly using the Star Alliance member’s A330-200s, and faces no direct competition from any incumbent carriers.

The previous day, the airline started services from the Belgian capital to Tenerife South (TFS). The 3,093-kilometre link to the Canary Island airport will operate twice-weekly according to OAG Schedules Analyser data, facing direct competition from Jetairfly and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium which operate a combined 17 weekly flights. The link to the Spanish island will be flown utilising the airline’s A320s. Vote for Brussels to Accra’s route launch cake.

NIGERIA: Airlines Decry Reintroduction Of Customs Duties On Aircraft Parts

Managing Director of Arik Air, Chris Ndulue

Nigerian airlines may be paying as much as N30 billion annually as Customs duties on imported aircraft parts as the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has jettisoned the waiver on payment of Customs duties granted to airlines in 2013 by the federal government.

The NCS said the waiver granted during the regime of immediate for more President Goodluck Jonathan was annual and the duration period had expired.

Aviation Industry insiders have however said with the reintroduction of the payment, airlines would pay five per cent of the cost of the aircraft part imported into the country. Unlike automobile parts, aircraft part is changed when it has used for a certain number of times or a certain period of time and not when the one in the machine had become bad.

So some aircraft parts are changed after about 10,000 landings; some are changed after they have been used for six months, for example.

Therefore, aircraft parts importation is a continuum and every aircraft could have its parts replaced 20 times in a year and for an airline that has about 20 aircraft, it would pay at least Customs duties 400 times in a year, excluding emergencies like bird strike, ground and air incidents which demands replacement of parts during repairs.

The airlines operators are concerned that because major repairs are done overseas and every airline has store for aircraft parts; when these parts are brought into the country duties are paid on them and when they are taken overseas to be fixed on aircraft during maintenance and the aircraft is brought back into the country, Customs insists that duties must also be paid.

Managing Director of Arik Air, Chris Ndulue, reacting to the development said: “Recently I was told that Customs has scrapped the waiver given to airlines on the importation of aircraft parts. They have gone back to charging five per cent duties when you import aircraft parts. That is a new trouble for Nigerian airlines. The worst part of it is that because you don’t do all your maintenance here, sometimes you find the parts, including tyres and wheels and breaks are going back and forth and they go out and come back you need to pay duties.

“So we need to understand this and how to protect this industry. I don’t see the reason why we should be paying duties on spare parts,” Ndulue said.

Another airline official also said that Customs charges five per cent of the cost of an imported aircraft parts as import duty.

“It is another money that the airlines will pay, which their counterparts everywhere in the world don’t pay. That makes a Nigerian airline less competitive than its foreign counterparts. This is because it is the same parts that other airlines in other countries order that the airlines in Nigeria order also,” the official said.

He pointed out the consequences of the reintroduction of the duties, besides the huge money that would be raised by the airlines.

“The consequence of this payment is that it makes the operating environment less safe because some airlines will not be willing to parts for parts that need to be replaced because of the cost; rather, they would manage the existing one in the aircraft and this can lead to accident.”

According to Cape Town Convention, there should not be duty charges on automobile parts which include aircraft parts because without such replacement of the parts accidents may occur.

Former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, said shortly before the waiver was secured in 2013, “We are working on how to remove duties for the importation of aircraft and aircraft parts. Cape Town Convention classified aircraft parts as mobile equipment and government is working on that. The Minister of Aviation has written a lot of letters and another letter is going again that government should please remove duties on aircraft and spares. This is going to help the industry.”

RUSSIA: Pobeda pops-up in St Petersburg

Touching down in Novosibirsk on the 23 October launch of services from Moscow Vnukovo was the ubiquitous Pobeda 737-800. The Russian domestic operation will be served on a daily basis.

Another airport, another Pobeda 737-800. Perhaps more significantly, this route launch was in St Petersburg, and marked the entry of Aeroflot’s LCC into Russia’s second city. Daily connections from Ekaterinburg and Krasnodar were the inaugural services.

Pobeda, Aeroflot’s in-house LCC, has commenced its first routes into Russia’s second city – St Petersburg (LED). The two routes from Ekaterinburg (SVX) and Krasnodar (KRR) are both inbound services, with no aircraft stationed at Pulkovo yet. All four of the routes would have faced direct competition, had it not been for the demise of Transaero Airlines, which operated on the Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) to Novosibirsk (OVB) route until its AOC was recently revoked.

NORWAY: Norwegian, Six New Routes To The Canary Islands

How many people does it take to cut a route launch cake? In Tenerife North, which saw the start of two new Norwegian domestic Spanish routes from Madrid and Barcelona, it’s four.

However, 110 kilometres away in Gran Canaria it takes five (maybe the cake was harder?). The Canaries airport was celebrating three new Norwegian services – two domestic (Barcelona and Madrid) and one international (Karlstad in Sweden).

Norwegian used the first week of the W15/16 season to start six new routes from four of its bases, five of which were domestic Spanish routes.

The average sector length of these routes was 2,251 kilometres – with the longest route being the 4,126-kilometre Gran Canaria (LPA) to Karlstad (KSD) airport pair, while the shortest was the 1,482-kilometre link from Malaga to Tenerife South (TFS). The average weekly frequency of the new routes was four.

Ryanair provides competition on four of the six new routes, all with a matching or superior weekly frequency.

NIGERIA: Addressing Passenger Traffic

A lot of people think that air transportation is for Nigeria’s rich elite. That explains why less than one per cent of the nation’s population travels by air.

There are two factors that experts say constrain more people from travelling by air. One is the income of average Nigerian and two is poor connectivity. Airlines flight schedule is tailored towards maximisation of load factor and so it does not connect to certain destinations where there could be potential traffic but currently have not been developed like Warri to Port Harcourt, Eket to Lagos etc.

However, for air travel to develop, there must be more people that would travel by air and when that is done Nigerian airlines would become profitable. How can this feat be achieved?

Recent survey conducted in the aviation industry by Philips Consulting showed that the number of Nigerians that travel by air is increasing and that brings to the fore whether the facilities on ground, the services and the whole airport environment enhance passenger movement and comfort.

According to the report by Philips Consulting, those who responded to the survey showed that 69 per cent of them had travelled to domestic destinations and most of them (76 per cent) booked their flights online.

But challenges frequently experienced in booking online include unstable Internet connections (35 per cent), inconsistent ticket pricing (27 per cent) and online payment difficulties.

The major determinant factors passengers considered, according to the report were price and safety. Respondents to the survey gave affordable pricing, 23 per cent; high safety standards, 22 per cent and good quality of service, 21 per cent. These were the three most important factors that majority of respondents said determined their choice of airlines.

“On the other hand, a high rate of flight delays and cancellations (21 per cent), poor quality of service (20 per cent) and low safety standards (17 per cent) were revealed as major reasons why many customers avoided certain airlines,” the report said.

On travel experiences, virtually all respondents (90 per cent) have experienced an experienced flight delays or cancellations, with 36 per cent regarding it as a regular occurrence. Many, 58 per cent said they have experienced prolonged delays in retrieving their luggage on arrival at their destinations.

On a positive note, the report said, 70 per cent have never had their checked-in luggage misplaced by airline staff or baggage handlers during travels.

The report said the most frequented airports terminals are the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2), Lagos (42 per cent), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja (21 per cent), General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos (14 per cent) and Port Harcourt International Airport (10 per cent) were the most frequented airports of departure for a combined 87 per cent of respondents.

Philips Consulting survey said most respondents were satisfied with the ease of access to, from and within airports. However, 31 per cent were dissatisfied with the availability and costs of using luggage trolleys.

The report noted that in Nigeria, domestic passenger traffic has increased remarkably over the past decade.

“This has been achieved through the increase in the number of airline operators, increasing flight frequencies and the (re)construction of airports in various states, hence enabling flight route connectivity. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Lagos domestic airport has experienced the largest amount of passenger traffic, with an average of 4 million passengers annually between 2010 and 2013,” the report noted.

In comparison to other international airports, the report said the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos remains the busiest airport, with passenger traffic increasing by more than 40 per cent between 2010 and 2013. This was attributed to increased flight routes and the emergence of new airline operators. The Abuja International airport has also experienced an increase in passenger traffic by about 48 per cent, ranking in second place after Lagos.

“Other airports such as Kano and Port Harcourt have lower passenger traffic, although these have also experienced significant increases in passenger traffic. In the Port Harcourt airport, passenger traffic grew from 13,148 to an astounding 125,577 between 2010 and 2013 (i.e. 855 per cent total growth).

“International airlines such as Lufthansa and Air France have heavily contributed to this increase, by operating daily flights from Port Harcourt to various destinations (through connecting flights). However, although international passenger traffic has experienced growth over the years, the number of travellers at international airports remains considerably fewer than at domestic airports,” the report said.

However, it is believed that if the domestic airlines develop new routes and destinations that are unexploited presently more Nigerians would travel by air. Managing Director of IRS, Yemi Dada said at a recent event that the low purchasing power of the average Nigerian is the major reason why Nigerian airlines do not have consistent high load factor. He said the industry would explode if up to five per cent of the population travels by air.

That will make the aviation industry contribute more to the GDP.

Also, travel expert, Ikechi Uko said many parts of the country have not been connected by air and that airlines are yet to develop new routes, which would also boost air travel.

In the Philips Consulting Aviation Survey report, it was indicated that the challenges being faced by the airlines in the industry include the cost of aviation fuel, which is the highest expenditure item for airline carriers.

“In 2008, based on a sample of 45 major global airlines, fuel represented 32.3 per cent of the total operating costs.

Nigerian airline carriers spend on average 40 per cent of their expenditure on fuel, whereas global counterparts spend about 29 per cent on average. In Africa, aviation fuel is about 20 per cent more expensive, when compared with other continents.”

The report also pointed out that the high tariff costs for imported airline (e.g. aircraft spare parts) and airport (e.g. ramps, conveyor belts, x-rays, etc.) equipment are burdensome, especially for handling companies, adding that there have been a few too many plane crashes, emergency landings and near collisions in the Nigerian industry over the last 10 years.

The report also identified safety-related issues, including inadequate infrastructure, human error, and poor emergency response guidelines, procedures and capabilities to combat air disasters as part of the major challenges.

“The risky nature of the aviation business is often a major obstacle in the acquisition of funding and financing by airlines.

High insurance premiums are also borne by operators due to the perceived risks associated with flight operations locally.

Many airports in Nigeria are in a state of disrepair. Basic infrastructure such as adequate runway capacities and terminal facilities are often lacking at major airports in the country,” the report also said.

BELARUS: Belavia Links Minsk With Odessa

Belavia commences services between Minsk and Odessa on 25 October. The 848-kilometre sector will be operated daily using the carrier’s 737-300s. The route faces no competition.

Belavia commenced operations between Minsk (MSQ) and Odessa (ODS) on 25 October. The 848-kilometre sector will be operated daily by the carrier’s 737-300s and face no incumbent carriers on the link between the Belarusian and Ukrainian cities.

This brings to 37 the number of destinations served non-stop by Belavia from Minsk, of which nine (including Odessa) are served at least daily. By far the airline’s busiest route is to Moscow Domodedovo, which it operates seven times daily.

SWEDEN: SAS Starts Stansted Service

SAS commenced services between Gothenburg and London Stansted on 26 October.

The 999-kilometre sector will be operated by the Star Alliance member’s 737-600s on a daily basis and replaces the airline’s operations between the Swedish city and London Heathrow.

SAS commenced services from Gothenburg (GOT) to London Stansted (STN) and Brussels (BRU) on 26 October. The 999-kilometre service to London’s third busiest airport will operate daily while services on the 903-kilometre link to the Belgian capital will operate six times weekly.

Both routes will be flown by the Star Alliance member’s 737-600s and both will also face direct competition. Stansted services will compete against Ryanair which operates 18 weekly flights while Brussels Airlines is the incumbent carrier on services to Brussels, with it also operating 18 weekly flights.

However, services to Belgium are in partnership as both SAS and Brussels Airlines are part of Star Alliance.

TURKEY: Turkish Airlines Makes Miami Destination #12 In The Americas

Wow this model plane is heavy. Special guests at the inaugural Turkish Airlines service from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to Miami share the load to commemorate the start of the 777-300-operated, daily service. The airline also connected Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen and Baghdad on the same day.

Turkish Airlines began another US destination this week (25 October), commencing daily services on the 9,601-kilometre airport pair of Istanbul Atatürk (IST) to Miami (MIA). With existing services to Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Toronto, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Boston, Montreal and San Francisco, the route becomes its 12th destination in the Americas.

“We’re thrilled to name Miami as the newest gateway in the US and proud to serve one of the most influential tourism centres in the world. Our global network and award-winning service will make international travel easier and more convenient for both business and leisure travellers in this area,” says Turkish Airlines’ CMO Ahmet Olmuştur.

The route will flown by the Star Alliance carrier’s 777-300 fleet and faces no direct competition. On the same day, Turkish Airlines launched another daily service, this time between Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) and Baghdad (BGW). The 1,569-kilometre sector will be operated by the airline’s 737-800 fleet and will encounter competition from the incumbent carrier Pegasus Airlines, which operates the same airport pair thrice-weekly.

GERMANY: Lufthansa Adds Frankfurt And Munich New Route

Just one of the four routes started recently by Lufthansa was the weekly operation from Munich to Fuerteventura, which was marked by this great cake.

The airline also started routes to Tenerife South (also from Munich), as well as Nairobi and Luxembourg, which will both be served from Frankfurt.

Lufthansa used the first week of the W15/16 season to start four new routes from its two biggest bases – Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC). The average sector length of these routes was 3,229 kilometres – with the longest route being the 6,310-kilometre Frankfurt to Nairobi (NBO) service, while the shortest was the 175-kilometre Frankfurt to Luxembourg (LUX) hop.

The latter city pair was recently dropped by the previous incumbent Luxair.

MALDIVES: RIU Will Open Its First Hotel In The Maldives In 2018

RIU Hotels & Resorts has embarked on a new project which will make it the first Spanish hotel chain with a presence in the Maldives. RIU purchased the islets of Kedhigandu and Maafushi which will contain two hotels, a Riu Palace with 174 rooms and a Riu Classic with 248 rooms. The project is currently in the design phase and the hotels are scheduled to open in 2018. RIU’s new project will serve as a platform for its future growth in Asia, set to officially kick off in July 2016 with the opening of the Riu hotel Sri Lanka.

Located in the Indian Ocean, south of India and 780 kilometers from Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, the Maldives are made up of around 1,200 islands of which only 203 are inhabited. The country is organized into 26 atolls (groups of islands) and RIU’s two islets are located in the Dhaalu atoll. The closest main island (inhabited and with services) is Kudahuvadho.

In order to bring its brand to the Maldives, RIU faces an enormous challenge since communication between islands is very complex and infrastructure and services are non-existent. Construction will be unlike any other project previously carried out by the chain, while the investment necessary will also be significant. Between the land and construction, RIU calculates that it will be close to 140 million euros.

The results will also be unlike any of the chain’s current hotels. The water surrounding the islets is quite shallow, creating a gamut of turquoise blue the beauty of which is striking. This, in addition to the unique nature of the construction, which will include small seaside structures which will have direct access either to the beach or to the sea by way of a stairway from the room’s terrace.

Both sides of the walkway joining the two islets will also have rooms built directly on top of the water. These will belong to the Riu Palace hotel.

TURKEY: Borajet Airlines Joins Congested Cologne Bonn To Turkey Market

Celebrating the launch of Borajet Airlines’ new Cologne Bonn service from Ankara and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen are: Onur Akgül , President of Commerce, Borajet Airlines; the Borajet Airlines crew; Ulrich Stiller, Director of Marketing and Sales, Cologne Bonn Airport; and Aşan Kanarya, Sales and Development Manager, Borajet Airlines.

Borajet Airlines has started two new services from Turkey to Cologne Bonn (CGN). Launched on 25 October, the 2,322-kilometre route from Ankara (ESB) will be served weekly (Sundays).

This sector will face competition from germanwings and Pegasus Airlines, which both fly weekly services too. Started the next day, the 2,029-kilometre route from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) will be operated four times weekly.

This city pair will again face competition from germanwings and Pegasus, but also from Turkish Airlines too. Both routes are operated by the Turkish airline’s E190s.

Ryanair Lets It Go On 13 New Routes

Ryanair launched three new routes from Cologne Bonn this week to Milan/Bergamo, Porto and Warsaw Modlin, with Gran Canaria and Valencia to follow next week. The new services were celebrated by: Maike Lyssy (left) and Joanna Hagemeyer (right), Business Development & Aviation Marketing, Cologne Bonn; Markus Leopold, Marketing & Sales Executive, Ryanair; and Ryanair cabin crew.

Back in October 2009, Ryanair launched its first flights between Brussels Charleroi and two Scandinavian cities ‒ namely Oslo-Rygge (Norway) and Stockholm Skavsta (Sweden). Six years later, on 25 October 2015, the first flight to Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen took off from Charleroi, with 183 passengers on board. To coincide with the occasion, the Belgian airport showcased Scandinavia by putting on a number of activities throughout its terminal – including Olaf from Frozen. Launched initially with a daily service, the route increases to double-daily from 5 November.

Sunday 25 October saw the first daily Ryanair flight to Copenhagen depart from Stockholm Skavsta Airport. “We are extremely pleased with the destination, the daily frequency and the confidence that Ryanair puts in re-establishing traffic at Stockholm Skavsta Airport,” says Peter Steinmetz, CEO of the Swedish airport.

Ryanair used the first week of the W15/16 season to start 13 new routes from 10 of its bases. These are ‘new, new’ routes as opposed to Ryanair’s definition of new – its definition of new includes routes that were started in S15, but were not operated in the previous winter season. The average sector length of these routes was 1,436 kilometres – with the longest route being the 3,846-kilometre Tenerife South (TFS) to Copenhagen (CPH) airport pair, while the shortest also included the Danish capital, this time with the 435-kilometre link to Stockholm Skavsta (NYO). The average weekly frequency of the new routes is seven. Vote for Bratislava, Budapest and Cologne Bonn’s route launch cakes. Vote for Stockholm Skavsta Airport’s fire truck water arch.

UAE: flydubai Launches Dubai Al Maktoum Operations

Offering six new routes and 63 weekly frequencies, flydubai’s new base at Dubai Al Maktoum was opened for business on 25 October.

flydubai launched its first flights from Dubai Al Maktoum (DWC) on 25 October.

Speaking about flydubai’s new operations, Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, said: “It is the same spirit that allowed us to develop significant potential for growth in the many markets within our geographic focus and now enables us to take advantage of the huge opportunity presented by DWC. We recognise the benefits and convenience that DWC offers, while at the same time continuing our operations at the world renowned Dubai International.

We are a young, dynamic airline and keen to increase opportunities for travel for our passengers across Dubai; DWC gives us that.”

On the same day flydubai’s inaugural flight landed in the capital city of Eritrea, Asmara (ASM). The Eritrean capital becomes the airline’s 13th destination in East Africa and the 18th destination flydubai has launched this year.

OMAN: Quorvus Collection Continues Its Expansion In Oman

Carlson Rezidor, one of the most dynamic hotel groups worldwide, announces a new member of the luxury Quorvus Collection: the existing Hormuz Grand Hotel in Muscat (Oman). The property with 231 guest rooms will join the collection in late 2015. Quorvus Collection is a new generation of expertly curated luxury hotels inspired by the lifestyle and sensibilities of the contemporary global traveller.

“We are delighted to add one of Oman’s flagship hotels to the Quorvus Collection. The hotel ideally complements our Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson properties in the city, and allows us to offer an additional segment to our national and international guests and to create operational synergies”, said Wolfgang M. Neumann, President and CEO of Rezidor.

“The Middle East is a core market for Quorvus Collection. We already have one member in the region – the Symphony Style Hotel Kuwait – and will further expand our network of carefully selected properties together with our partners”, added Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer of Rezidor.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Carlson Rezidor for such an exciting project. With its iconic architecture and ideal location, we are confident that the Hormuz Grand will fast become the first choice of travellers looking for world-class luxury and hospitality in Oman”, commented Khadim Awadh, Chairman of Hormuz Grand.

The Hormuz Grand features 231 elegant rooms and suites, and is located 4km away from Muscat International Airport and 20km away from the city centre. It is situated at one of the premium locations in Oman that is a hub for governmental and academic institutions, shopping centre and golf courses. The hotel offers two restaurants (all-day-dining and a celebrated Indian venue; a third seafood restaurant is under development), modern conference rooms including a 390 sqm ballroom, a pool, an outstanding spa managed by ISpa (Thailand), and a gym. With the ever expanding business and leisure tourism into the city, the Hormuz Grand promises to meet the needs of business and leisure travellers alike.

Quorvus Collection was launched in 2014 to unite individual and inspiring luxury properties offering distinguished experiences. Different in scale, architecture, ambiance and design, the portfolio aims to include historic landmarks, contemporary residences, classic boutiques and urban retreats. All hotels offer a range of essential services perfectly tailored to the guests’ needs. The “Q24” concept comprises six core lifestyle elements – wellness, replenishment and style encompassing the body; and inspiration, entertainment and connectivity to meet the needs of the mind.

NIGERIA: How Nigerian Army Came About the 100 Boko Haram Suspects

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai

The Nigerian Army has explained how it was able to get the images and list of the 100 suspected members of Boko Haram terrorists.

The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, said it took the military painstaking investigation and research to arrive at the list.

According to Usman, “Some of the suspects were noted through various Boko Haram video releases, eye witness accounts and materials captured during capture of their camps.”

“These are people who even have the list of the number of people they have killed, carrying guns, different arms, ammunitions and some of them are still hiding deep inside the Sambisa forest,” he said.

On why the names were not listed, the army spokesman said that the military “does not yet have the names and full details of the suspects” and urged members of the public to volunteer information that could assist in nabbing the terrorists.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, had on Wednesday in Maiduguri displayed “the photographs of 100 suspected Boko Haram terrorists declared wanted by the Nigerian Army,” urging the media to disseminate the information to the public to enable them assist with information on the wanted suspects.

Usman has however revealed that more suspects would be unveiled to the public, saying that the military are still analysing their findings.

“This 100 suspects are not all as more will be displayed, but we are appealing to the public, the media and agencies of the government to assist the military in this venture in order to identify them,” he urged.

The army spokesperson said the photographs of 100 suspected Boko Haram terrorists was to enable the public to assist with information on the suspects.

The military is therefore asking members of the public with information about any of them to report to security agents.

Meanwhile, pictures were gathered from various sources including video footage seized at overrun camps, surrendering terrorists and other sundry sources.

An intelligence source said: “Some of the suspects were actively involved in grievous atrocities against humanity from the recovered footage and testimonies from survivors and captured terrorists.”

Thursday 29 October 2015

Mandarin Oriental Announces New Celebrity Fan

Celebrated Chinese actor, singer and model Chen Kun, has been welcomed as the newest celebrity fan for Mandarin Oriental’s USD multi-million global advertising campaign “He’s a Fan/She’s a Fan”.

The campaign elegantly connects Mandarin Oriental’s well-recognized symbol – the fan – with international celebrities who regularly stay at the Group’s hotels. In appreciation of their support, the Group makes a donation to each celebrity’s individual choice of charity. Chen Kun’s choice is UNICEF, for whom he is an ambassador. He focuses his efforts particularly on disadvantaged children in rural areas of China.

Well-known portrait photographer Mary McCartney, photographs each celebrity in a location of their choice which, for them, best represents a feeling of well-being. Chen Kun chose to be photographed at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona.

Chen Kun has been described as a classic ‘Renaissance Man’, who has found success in a variety of creative areas that include acting, singing and modelling. He first gained recognition in the popular Chinese television drama Love in Shanghai and rose to prominence for his acting roles in The Knot, and Painted Skin, which gained him the Huabiao Award for ‘Best Actor’. He also received a Golden Horse Award nomination – the ‘Oscars’ of the Chinese film industry – for Best Actor in A West Lake Moment. He is much admired for his work, particularly on the mainland, and has one of the most active Chinese social media Sina Weibo accounts, with over 70 million followers. As a singer, Chen has released three full-length studio albums, winning Most Popular Male Vocalist at the MTV Asia Awards for his second album, Come True Again.

While Chen finds it hard to choose one particular favourite of the Group’s hotels, he enjoys both Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo and The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, and looks forward to experiencing other properties worldwide.

“The award-winning campaign continues to make a strong statement about the Group in a simple and luxurious manner, and we are delighted to welcome Chen Kun as our newest ambassador,” said Jill Kluge, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s Director of Brand Communications. “By focusing on celebrities who clearly appreciate the finer things in life, we have been able to show the quality of our hotels in a far more interesting way than traditional hotel advertising,” she added.

Chen Kun joins Mandarin Oriental’s 28 existing fans: Isabelle Huppert, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Cecilia Bartoli, Caterina Murino, Sir Peter Blake, Lin Chiling, Karen Mok, Kevin Spacey, Christian Louboutin, Sophie Marceau, IM Pei, Michelle Yeoh, Jane Seymour, Kenzo Takada, Jerry Hall, Vanessa Mae, Vivienne Tam, Barry Humphries, Frederick Forsyth, Darcey Bussell, Bryan Ferry, Dame Helen Mirren, Maggie Cheung, Sigourney Weaver, Sir David Tang, Hélène Grimaud and Sa Ding Ding.

FINLAND: Veganagogo,New App Release Gives Confidence To Vegan Traveller

Veganagogo provides the modern vegan traveller with a 50 language travel translation app that will help remove the hassle and uncertainty from ordering vegan food when travelling overseas.

Helsinki-based, Agogo Apps is pleased to announce the launch of Veganagogo, a travel translation app for vegans, available on the iOS platform.

Following on from the success of Veggoagogo - the company's 50 language vegetarian travel translation app for both the iOS and Android platforms - a vegan version was always planned as a follow-up release.

Veganagogo aims to provide the modern vegan traveller with an app that lends confidence to a situation that has filled vegans with dread for decades; ordering vegan food on the road.

As well as defining what a vegan is, Veganagogo addresses many of the needs that the travelling vegan faces on a daily basis, from locating a restaurant that serves vegan fare, to choosing suitable items from the menu, down to thanking the chef, waiter, concierge, market-stall holder or friendly local.

Veganagogo is intuitive and easy to use. The user simply chooses a question or statement from those on offer, then selects from one of 50 languages available before tapping the translate button and being presented with their translation.

The translation screen text has been optimised to be displayed at distance. It can be flicked between night and day modes, making the text easy to read in all lighting conditions.

Veganagogo enlisted the drawing talents of Australian illustrator, Cat MacInnnes to create a range of animal icons, that add to the usability of the app, whilst maintaining its simplicity.

Users can tap the animal and animal product icons atop the translation screen and be presented with full screen versions which can be swiped and used as a visual backup to the translated message.

Users are encouraged to spice up their Veganagogo experience to match the flavour of their current destination with one of the many preset colour themes on offer.

Paul Dodson, founder of Agogo Apps had this to say, "Often when travelling abroad it's hard to get across exactly what a vegan will and will not eat. In many countries it's a loosely defined concept where vegan dishes may still include fish or seafood. With Veganagogo we aimed to do two things: one, to define very clearly what a vegan won't eat and two, to offer a range of questions that travelling vegans face on a daily basis. In version 1.0 of Veganagogo, we do this in 50 languages.

"Veganagogo has been designed with simplicity and usability in mind. The interface is uncluttered and hopefully, aesthetically pleasing. All of our translations have been professionally completed by native language speakers".

USA: Nexmo Powers KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Customer Engagement On WeChat

Nexmo Chat App API seamlessly connects KLM Royal Dutch Airlines customer service to consumers on WeChat via Salesforce Service Cloud.

Nexmo, the leading cloud communications platform company, announced its Chat App API is empowering KLM, the leading airline of the Netherlands, to engage with Chinese customers on WeChat, the leading social communication platform, through Salesforce Service Cloud.

KLM Royal Dutch airlines is now able to process and handle user inquiries from Chinese customers on WeChat more efficiently based on previous interactions with users on multiple platforms. Now no matter which social communication platform people choose to contact KLM, they will always get a personal, high-touch customer service based on previous conversations independent of which social platform they chose. The newly launched service is available on Weixin, WeChat's sister product targeting users in China. The combined monthly active user accounts on WeChat and Wexin reached 600 million as of the second quarter of 2015.

This is the first time a company has been able to engage with customers on a social communication platform through Salesforce Service Cloud. Today's announcement contributes to Nexmo's vision for one cloud communication API to connect all chat apps to all CRM platforms, ushering in the next wave of how brands interact with customers.

"We sincerely believe that we can service our customers best by being where they are," said Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, Manager Social Media at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. "Apart from the one-to-many platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, we are seeing enormous growth of social communication platforms like WeChat. Salesforce is the backbone of our social organization and Nexmo offers us a solution to add platforms like WeChat to our CRM system."

Social communication platforms have a massive built-in audience and make up four out of the top six largest social platforms with QQ, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat challenging Facebook and Qzone, according to social media agency We Are Social. This presents a significant opportunity for brands to engage with consumers in authentic, one-to-one engagement, with both Forrester and IDC saying chat applications are the new face of social media.

Scaling for Rampant Growth
While customers and brands have much to gain from customer engagement via social communication platforms, scale is a significant hurdle for brands since they have to manage multiple social platforms at once. Also, the high volume of messages from these chat apps must flow into the correct CRM platform. For example, KLM receives approximately 70,000 mentions per week from customers worldwide via social platforms, making scale and platform integration vital to excellent customer engagement. To solve this, Nexmo's Chat App API uniquely allows KLM's customer service team to engage WeChat users through their existing Salesforce Service Cloud portal, who can deliver a better, more tailored and seamless customer service experience for each passenger.

"Customers are demanding more and better service, delivered through every conceivable channel, and our work with KLM and WeChat is the next big thing in cloud communications," said Chris Moore, CRO of Nexmo. "We are eager to continue lowering the barriers brands face when engaging consumers on chat apps, and accelerate how cloud communications change the way people communicate."

USA: CellPoint Mobile Urges Airlines To Protect Integrity Of Payments

As cyber-attacks and fraudulent activities follow mobile payments into the global marketplace, airlines must adopt and deploy internal solutions that can monitor, alert and halt fraudulent activity and simultaneously protect their valuable frequent-flyer programs from digital threats, according to CellPoint Mobile.

A global payment solutions company, CellPoint Mobile makes the case for enhanced fraud-prevention strategies in the wake of reports showing that mobile payments, which currently represent 14% of U.S. merchant transactions, make up a disproportionate 21% of fraud cases.

"About 40% of airlines have experienced some type of loyalty fraud, and about the same percentage have no security measures to protect their frequent-flyer programs," says CellPoint Mobile CEO Kristian Gjerding. "With nearly two in five travel bookings now made in the mobile environment, fraudulent activity will inevitably follow. Airlines need solutions that can protect payments, passengers, loyalty program value and their reputations."

Anti-fraud solutions can protect airlines, passengers, brand equity
In addition to targeting mobile payments, predicted to rise from $32 billion in 2013 to $67 billion in 2015, according to Forrester Research, some hackers are targeting airline's frequent flyer miles, estimated at $21.4 billion in 2015, says Gjerding. Common schemes include:

Outright hacks of members' accounts and theft/transfer of miles
Online mileage brokers, who buy unused miles from members and sell them for cash (or other goods) at far below market value
Employee theft and manipulation of miles, points and rewards

Fraud-related airline vulnerabilities include loss of the stolen miles, loss of the miles' financial asset value, reimbursement costs, and eroded passenger confidence. CellPoint Mobile urges airlines to treat frequent-flyer and loyalty accounts as bank accounts and to halt fraud with:

Stepped-up authentication measures for members' rewards and frequent flyer programs
Real-time transaction-tracking solutions to monitor fraud proactively
Alerts that can flag signs of fraud, including questionable transactions or requests below configured thresholds
Higher-level measures, including mobile-optimized security features, multi-factor authentication, voice and biometric security, one-time passwords, device fingerprinting and stored payment information.

23rd World Travel Monitor Forum In Pisa, Global Tourism Shakes Off Crises

Some 6.75 billion domestic trips and 1.2 billion international arrivals are expected by the end of this year, he said. The number of outbound trips increased by 4.5 percent in the first eight months of 2015, today’s results of the IPK trend survey showed. Growth drivers were short trips up to a maximum of seven nights. In contrast, the market share of longer trips declined further.
Worldwide economic factors along with the refugee crisis in Europe are impacting very differently on the global tourism industry. The overall trend remains satisfying, however, and 2015 has been another good year for world tourism. That is one of the results of IPK’s 23rd World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, Italy (October 26 – 28), presented by Rolf Freitag, President of tourism consultancy IPK International.

Some 6.75 billion domestic trips and 1.2 billion international arrivals are expected by the end of this year, he said. The number of outbound trips increased by 4.5 percent in the first eight months of 2015, today’s results of the IPK trend survey showed. Growth drivers were short trips up to a maximum of seven nights. In contrast, the market share of longer trips declined further.

Luxury class hotels and ‘para-hotel’ accommodation continued to increase their market shares, while other hotel categories lost worldwide market shares. Germany remained the ‘world travel champion’ as the worldwide number one outbound market for international tourism, followed by the USA and the UK. Excluding all trips to Hong Kong and Macau, China lies in fourth place in the ranking. Among city trip destinations, Hong Kong was again in first place ahead of Paris and London.

The outlook for world travel in 2016 is also very positive. In October 2015, as part of its World Travel Monitor, IPK International questioned respondents in the most important markets for outbound travel about their travel planning for 2016. The result is the World Travel Confidence Index, which already predicted future market trends very reliably in recent years. For 2016, IPK is predicting international tourism growth of 4.3 percent. The strongest growth can be expected from Asia (+6.1 percent) and North America (+5.1 percent in total, but +5.9 percent from the USA). Europeans will also contribute to the rise in global tourism with a 2.8 percent increase in outbound trips. The travel desire of Latin Americans is relatively subdued, and they plan only 1.9 percent more trips than in 2015.

At the annual World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, initiated at the invitation of consultancy IPK International and supported by ITB Berlin, more than 50 tourism experts and academics from around the world present the latest figures and current trends in international tourism. Additional results of IPK International’s trend surveys from January to August 2015 together with the estimates of 50 tourism experts from more than 20 countries and the key data from the World Travel Monitor are published exclusively by ITB Berlin. The detailed results will appear at the beginning of December in the ITB World Travel Trends Report.

The World Travel Monitor final results for the year, including the latest outlook for 2016, will be presented at the ITB Convention by Rolf Freitag, President of IPK International. The World Travel Monitor is based on representative interviews with more than 500,000 people a year in more than 60 travel markets worldwide, and has been regularly conducted for more than 20 years. It is recognised as the largest continuous study into global travel patterns.